Unlocking digital transformation with Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
The term “digital transformation” has become synonymous with a company’s striving for modernization. It enables companies to transform their operating models to improve the customer experience, increase successful results, and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. While many technologies, processes, and cultural adaptations are required to successfully drive digital transformation, “automation” is a critical aspect of the entire process.
How RPA supports digital transformation
The easiest way RPA accelerates digital transformation is to relieve a team of unproductive, redundant, time-consuming, and repeatable manual tasks and allow the team to focus on the core tasks that ensure business growth. By introducing RPA in different phases and functions, a company can save time and resources and ensure better responsiveness at almost all points of contact in its value chain. By helping a company save time, money, and bandwidth while improving the customer experience, RPA can be groundbreaking in improving business performance and results. It is important to understand, however, that “RPA” or “any other type of automation” only enables a company to accelerate digital transformation, but not fully achieve it.
RPA enables companies to achieve the following skills to help them with digital transformation initiatives:
- Allows speed and adaptability: We saw several examples of how RPA enabled businesses in all industries during the pandemic. RPA helped hospitals set up appointments with ecommerce companies handling customer inquiries and helped accelerate the speed of these transactions. Several similar tasks within a company can be automated to save time so that employees can focus on tasks that require human intervention and expertise. With a no-coding approach, RPA also helps to address and deploy challenges quickly compared to traditional solutions.
- Guaranteed accuracy: When repetitive processes are automated with RPA, the likelihood of human-made errors decreases significantly. Not only does this guarantee that the task is done on time, but it also ensures that the task will be done perfectly no matter how many times it is repeated. Organizations striving for digital transformation benefit from this security and consistent quality.
- Complements the existing processes: When a complete overhaul of the ecosystem is not an option for a company for various reasons, RPA helps fill the functional gaps in the ecosystem. RPA helps access data from several different sources such as legacy, ERP, and external systems, and companies don’t have to transform their setup to add custom functionality. With RPA, companies can achieve a certain degree of automation without modifying the underlying systems, as it interacts with existing software. Without costly and time-consuming API connectivity, RPA can connect different systems to ensure a smooth process. Essentially, RPA removes the main barriers to business process evolution without large investments or chaos.
- Brings 24X7 capability: “Always on” is a crucial expectation in digitization. With RPA, a company can enable a 24×7 setup because bots can run around the clock and don’t need breaks. This helps maximize time and efficiency without putting undue pressure on the workforce.
- Brings resilience: While automation will not replace human labor in the foreseeable future, it can certainly reduce the risks that future crises could pose to labor supply and productivity. In addition, by reducing the possibilities of “uncertainty”, RPA provides greater resilience to ensure business continuity even in adverse situations.
How to use RPA for digital transformation
The first important step in this direction is to ensure that the goals of the RPA program are aligned with the company’s overall digital transformation strategy. The other critical aspects to consider when leveraging RPA for digital transformation are:
- Stable and long-term planning: Organizations should evaluate the profitability of RPA in the context of their broader digital transformation plan and avoid systems and processes changing significantly in the near future.
- Effective governance: RPA and intelligent automation are scalable, but require effective governance and a strategy for managing huge software bot fleets. One way to ensure long-term support and focus is to use a well-defined and disciplined RPA governance architecture with regular steering committee meetings.
- Cultural adaptation: In order for RPA programs to be successful, sustainable and scalable, an effective organizational change management program is required. To get the most out of RPA, organizations need to change their mindset and culture to create a balanced digital workplace where humans and machines work together to achieve a common goal.
- Well-defined success metrics: Organizations risk setting misleading expectations and overwhelming stakeholders if they do not have sufficient measures of success. It is therefore crucial to identify the quantifiable benefit right at the beginning of the program.
Digital transformation: the end goal
Customers and employees are the foundation of every company. Therefore, all companies must be committed and satisfied. RPA programs support data retrieval and the introduction of relevant processes to increase employee engagement and customer satisfaction – a decisive step towards scalability and transformation. The efficiency and adaptability of the ecosystem through RPA also made it possible to shift the focus from monotonous back office jobs to those that provide business value and customer loyalty, enabling further process transformation and improvement. When RPA is combined with other digital technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, intelligent workflow tools and digital assistants, companies can achieve end-to-end digital transformation.
Credit: airdone / Shutterstock
Bhavin Sankhat is project manager, employee collaboration at Synoptek. He has more than 10 years of experience executing several personal automation projects, particularly those related to Microsoft technologies. He works closely with Synoptek customers to help them plan, document and control their employee productivity tasks and to develop solutions that streamline their business processes.